For those of you living in the west, the term ‘motorcycle taxi’ may seem a bit odd. However, in Asia and other developing regions, motorcycle taxis are a way of life for the greater majority. Or at least they were, until the pandemic hit. In various countries in Asia such as India, the Philippines, and Indonesia, motorcycle taxis as well as delivery services comprise a great percentage of two-wheeled traffic.
Well, as it turns out, the motorcycle taxi industry conforms to Newton’s Third Law—having seen a massive decline as a result of the stay-at-home restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of jobless motorcycle taxi drivers are currently seeking other ways to make ends meet as the country’s virus outbreak continues to rise.
Known locally as ‘ojek’, motorcycle taxis in Indonesia are a staple means of transport for both locals and tourists alike. Predominantly making use of sub-150cc scooters, ojeks prove themselves as extremely practical, making quick use of urban gridlocks. On top of this, the motorcycle taxi industry plays a key role in Indonesia’s growing economy by facilitating business activity and consumer transactions. Unfortunately, the virus breakout has caused a massive 40-percent of ojek drivers to go out of business as COVID-19 cases in the country have soared past 700,000.
As a result, folks who once relied on motorcycle taxis as their source of income are now resorting to other lower paying gigs simply to make ends meet. For reference, a motorcycle taxi driver can earn an average of $25-30 USD on a daily basis—well over the minimum wage, and pretty decent enough to lead a comfortable lifestyle. This recent turn of events however, has left drivers, many of which with outstanding loans for their motorcycles, in an extremely tight spot. With the threat of disease, lack of employment, and the looming threat of their motorcycles being repossessed, citizens are looking to the government for much needed aid in these trying times.
To make things worse, the decline of the motorcycle taxi industry in Indonesia poses substantial implications for the country’s economy. With customer activity and spending down, cash flow is hampered. It’s also important to note that this particular sector has been vital in accounting for low-skilled labor, as all a driver needs to make a living is a license and a motorcycle. With 2021 just breaking cover, everyone the world over is hopeful for a new start. Hopefully, our better tomorrow starts today.